Mar 5, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (center) celebrates after the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won the game 82-57. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports1

Joel Embiid Slides in NBA Draft Predictions Due to Injury

Just a few days ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers were leaning heavily towards selecting Kansas center, Joel Embiid, as the overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

This came as a bit of a surprise to basketball fans as throughout most of the 2013-2014 season, experts projected Kansas teammate, Andrew Wiggins, and Duke standout, Jabari Parker, as possible number one selections.

But after a terrific workout in Cleveland, Embiid’s raw talent, his smooth footwork, his length and size, and his incredible upside potential had won over NBA scouts and the Cav’s front office.

But all of that changed when news broke of Embiid’s foot injury.

According to reports from Yahoo Sports, Cleveland doctors discovered that Embiid had suffered a navicular stress fracture in his right foot. And by Friday, Embiid had undergone a successful surgery as doctors placed two screws into his right foot, leaving him inactive for between four to six months.

News of Joel Embiid’s foot injury has many NBA experts wondering just how far he’ll slide in the 20014 NBA Draft.

ESPN’s Chad Ford now projects Kansas forward, Andrew Wiggins, as Cleveland’s possible number one selection and fellow analyst, Jeff Goodman, predicts Duke’s Jabari Parker as the No. 1 pick.

Some analysts are forecasting that Embiid may fall to as low as the fourth pick by the Orlando Magic or the sixth pick by the Boston Celtics. For these teams, Embiid’s injury may be a blessing in disguise as neither team had any previous chance of landing a top selection like Embiid.

For Philadelphia, Boston, and any team still interested in the recovering Embiid, it’s a matter of weighing risk and reward. Players like Michael Jordan and Zydrunas Ilgauskas recovered from the same injury with successful careers.

But on the other hand, too many pundits remember high draft picks like Greg Oden, Yao Ming, Michael Olowokandi and Marcus Camby, all of whom suffered dabilitating injuries that cut short or severely hampered their professional careers.  

At this point, General Managers at Cleveland, Milwaukee and Philadelphia must surely be leaning towards the scoring potential of Jabari Parker or the athleticism and elite on-ball defense of Andrew Wiggins as their top selections.

Parker and Wiggins certainly have the potential to become NBA All-Stars. But superstars? Maybe not. Either way, no team wants to mess up the chance at a number one selection. If Embiid does not fully recover, who wants to be remembered as the team who selected the big center with known and debilitating injuries?

NBA Drafts are a funny thing. Sometimes teams with the number pick strike gold and sometimes they don’t. Consider these underwhelming No. 1 draft picks, coincidentally all big men:

  • Michael Olowakandi, drafted in 1998 by the Los Angeles Clippers
  • Kwame Brown, drafted in 2001 by the Washington Wizards
  • Andrew Bogut, drafted in 2005 by the Milwaukee Bucks
  • Andrea Bargnani, drafted in 2006 by the Toronto Raptors
  • Greg Oden, drafted in 2007 by the Portland Trailblazers
  • Anthony Bennett, drafted in 2013 by the Cleveland Cavaliers

No one wants another injury-ridden big man. And as much as I enjoyed watching Embiid play for Kansas and as much as I hope he succeeds in the NBA, I can’t say that I would take him as a number one or two pick either.

There’s just too much risk.

History proves that big men get hurt more often because of their height and weight and have greater difficulty recovering. Besides, with future All-Stars like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker as draft options, the alternative choice for Cleveland isn’t exactly a bad one.

What are your thoughts on the 2014 NBA Draft? Where should Joel Embiid go? Who will be the number one draft pick?

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